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[PLOT THREAD4.3] DR: Three Lock Box


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Ryan was pouring over maps of the Sahara, particularly the region known as the Eye of the Sahara, although its official name was the Richat Structure.

 

The structure itself was fascinating a geological dome that defied the geological data, it wasn’t a volcano at least not at any time in the last two to three million years, it seems to have been surrounded by the sea at some point due to the vast deposits of salt clearly visible from ariel and satellite images. It is home to a vast number of archeological artifacts, mostly stone tools like those found at other sites used by Homo erectus. These artifacts range in age of 1.5 million years all the way to 1.75 million years. The oddity is the dispersal, the artifacts are usually found in tight groupings located around the entire circumference of the structures outside ring, except where the dry riverbed lay, that once let to the ocean. Fascinating, puzzling, and infuriating.

 

His intercom buzzed, “Mr Hawke,” the voice of his assistant came through clear, “Miss Faire is here.”

“Thank you, Sylvia, please send her in.”

 

Ross had told them to be diligent and her advice to find some one who could see through walls might be useful had been a broad hint, there was a Nova calling himself Brightstorm, who seemed to be working for the government, or if not, at least he was based in Arlington Virginia and he was reported to have some sort of X-ray supervision. Rayan and Deezy figured Ross was hoping they would approach him and that she would have her a spy with out openly placing one on the team. Unfortunately they were at a  loss, none of the Novas recruited so far by NovaStorm had any such power. Their last option was to see if Temple Faire, Davian Layton’s ward and apparently a powerful psion, who had managed to keep her existence a secret from well most everyone, until recently, if she could help them in anyway. So while Deezy was gathering gear Ryan had been waiting for the young lady.

 

The door opened and Sylvia a tall slim attractive black woman showed Temple in, “Can I get either of you anything?”

Temple looked at Sylvia and shook her head saying nothing.

 

“No we’re fine Sylvia, thank you.”

 

Ryan looked at the girl, no young woman, standing near the door. She had changed so much from the sullen, dirty haired, skittish teenager they had found nearly a year ago. She had been the victim of the storm, her family all killed, her entire town destroyed leaving her the only known survivor, the Gulf Coast of East Texas and western Louisiana turned into a burned waste land by a storm monster that had seemingly vanished.

 

Today she was a different person, a High School senior, well dressed, and Powerful Psion.

 

Ryan looked at her from across the room, she looked back at him, neither moved.

 

Finally Ryan broke the silence, “Are you reading my mind?”

 

“No,” Temple shook her head, ”did you want me to?”

 

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"That might be easier, all things considered, since I did technically sign an NDA regarding everything I need to tell you."   Ryan smiled, and nodded.   "First, let me say you're looking better Temple.  I know things have been hectic, but you've adapted well, and even kept us from making a major mistake on the island.   Thank you for that."  His words were sincere, Ryan was almost always serious, but he wasn't harsh, at least outside training.   He hadn't been treating Temple any differently, now that he knew more of her abilities, though this request, it was something that might cause him to do so.  She had grown powerful, mostly on her own, as they'd been unaware of just what she was capable of aside from teleporting.   There was a pang of regret that passed through his mind, that he hadn't done more to help her.  He resolved that he'd at least make that effort, even if there was nothing he could do.

"I need to ask you about your abilities Temple, if you've got one in particular.   Deezy and I are involved with a major project, but we've hit a roadblock.   If you cannot help us, we'll effectively have to let a government spy onto the team to take up the role.   The thing of it is, I can't really say what it is we're doing, until you agree.   I have mentioned this to Davian, and if you agree, he has agreed to let you join us but the final decision is yours." 

He sighed.   "If you want, I invite you to look into my thoughts, and make your own decision."   he had a feeling she could do so without permission, but giving her that might make it easier.   For her benefit, he thought about the Object, Everything that had happened, and then their new mission, and their current needs.   His thoughts and memories of the events were crystal clear and perfect, far moreso than most normal people. 

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Temple found herself a little surprised at the invite to read Ryan's mind directly, either he was as old and uptight as he appeared, or he was really in need. She slipped into his mind and found everything that he wanted her to know.

22 hours ago, Ryan Hawke said:

He sighed.   "If you want, I invite you to look into my thoughts, and make your own decision." 

 

"Yes I can use my abilities to see beyond my physical limitations. And I will have to be there, your memory isn't enough to let me look past the barrier."

 

Her answer came so fast that Ryan hadn't even taken a breath after finishing his sentence. She hadn't moved, strained, not even a squint of her eyes, and worse he hadn't felt anything to indicate that some one was in his mind. Scary.

 

"I've already informed Mr Layton, so you don't have to, and don't worry I didn't tell him anything you hadn't already about your new associates and your encounter with the aliens."  She looked around the room, noting , well everything, "I'll need a suit."

 

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"Luckily, we know just the lady to see about that."  He smiled at her.  It was obvious he was wary of bringing her somewhere that'd be dangerous, but as things stood, they didn't have much of a choice.   

"Thank you for agreeing to this Temple."  There was a sincerity there that she didn't need to read his thoughts to know the older man meant it.   "One day, we'll be able to tell Davian what's going on.  I don't like keeping this secret, but it could cause everyone major problems to reveal it to widely."   He let out a sigh, then picked up the phone, dialing Deezy.

"Hey Deezy, It's Ryan.   I found our final team member.  She's gonna have need of your special talents as a seamstress."   He was lightly teasing.  "Could you come to my office?  Or I can just open a gate to where you are."

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  • 2 weeks later...

Deezy's voice picked up almost immediately.

 

"Hi! Thanks for calling KlattaTech Heavy Industries' founder and President, Deezy! Voice analysis shows you to be Ryan Hawke. Just a moment!"

 

There was a click, and then Deezy's voice picked up again. "Ryan! Buddy! Your timing...is...a thing." She listened to the pitch, then said, "A seamstress? Plegh, I'm going to have set up some kind of an assembly process for these things. Alright, yeah. You'd better do a portal. Hang on. Okay, longitude and latitude...47.73203140123178 by -88.02069780031651. Altitude about 1500 feet. And, uh...make it a horizontal portal near the ceiling, alright? And you may want to weigh down loose paper and stuff."

 

It was an odd set of instructions, but Ryan was pretty well used to that kind of thing by now. On opening the portal a brisk and chill wind blew through it into the office. A few seconds later Deezy dropped through it, landing heavily on the floor. She was wearing some kind of helmeted suit that had a very light exoskeleton built into the waist and legs, extending partway up the spine as well. The use of that became apparent as she touched down and the force of that impact was absorbed by the exoskeleton. Meanwhile the suit had very heavy duty boots, thick and almost armored looking, with a multitude of vents or nozzles poking out of it in all directions.

 

Ryan couldn't help but notice many of those nozzles were still very hot...hot enough to sear little circles into the carpet.

 

Deezy stood up, windmilling her arms as the portal above her closed up. After getting her balance she took off the helmet, which disengaged with little pops and hisses of equalizing pressure to reveal her grinning face. To Temple's subtler senses, even without trying to read her mind, Deezy's head sounded like a crowded room full of simultaneous conversations. Noisy, but almost unintelligible.

 

"Hey Temple! Good to have you on board! So then! What kind of thing did you have in mind?"

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Temple had watched somewhat wide eyed, not at Mr Hawke's warping ability, that she understood and comprehended probably better than he did, but at Deezy and her 'new' suit.

 

"Well, we are going to be under water so I will need to breath. I figured we would have the same suits you made for the first trip, but since I didn't go, I didn't get one. I certainly don't need anything as elaborate as that," she said pointing at the contraption Deezy was wearing.

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Ryan nodded.   "They'll need to be able to last for even longer than before, as there's no telling how long we'll have to use them.   Might also be good to add abit of lightweight armor.   I mean who the hell knows what's down there, or who."

He smiled at the two of them.   "We'll still have to report our findings, of course, so having all the usual recordings will be useful."   

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"Pretty much the same kinda thing we had before. Layer of ballistic fiber between the lining and the outer layer...nothing too crazy, want to be able to move freely...thinner around the joints, yeah. Might bunch though. Chafe. A little extra padding."

 

She snapped her fingers; an affectation she'd picked up working in the lab and workshops with other people. Turned out things just appearing out of nowhere without warning could startle them. Having a tangible gesture like a snap or something meant people would immediately assume the effect (something appearing out of nowhere) was associated with a visible cause (a snap) and the anxiety was practically zilch. From her perspective it was a little silly because it had never not had a cause. Just because they couldn't see her concentrating for a moment didn't mean it wasn't happening. Couldn't they just infer?

 

But whatever. A little showmanship never hurt, did it? Not if she wanted a business!

 

A pair of wetsuits appeared, folded in little piles at Ryan and Temple's feet. "I used your measurements from before Ryan, so let me know if you got bigger or smaller. Suits have lights in the shoulder, controlled with switches on the wrist. There's also a camera in the helmet you can turn on and off. I can monitor them from my exosuit, but they'll create recordings on internal SSDs we can collect once we're done as well."

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After assembling what equipment, they thought the might need Ryan contacted Grant who in turn put him in touch with Dr Ross. He explained the plan and that he did have someone who could ‘see through’ walls.

 

Dr Ross listened attentively at her desk, Ryan was on speaker phone, the only other person in the office was Casper Drought, a tall abnormally thin man with distinctive features, he was in his forties and was one of the handful of Psion’s in the service. He stood silently in the corner leaning against the wall staring, unblinking at the speaker.

 

“You are not going to tell me who are you,” ask Dr Ross?

 

“No ma’am, who it is isn’t important,” was Ryan’s succinct answer.

 

“Have it your way, Hawke.” She glanced at Drought who shook his head slightly indicating a negative. Ross frowned, “Just the three of you? You think that wise?”

“Smaller footprint. We are going to investigate not pick a fight. If there’s trouble we will get out.”

 

Ross was quiet for a few seconds, “Alright you’re a go, Mr Hawke. Good luck, I look forward to your report.” She disconnected the line and looked at Drought, shrugging a silent question at him.

 

“His mind was shielded, completely, I couldn’t get anything.”

 

“Was it because we were on the phone?”

 

“No, his voice and the phone connection gave me enough to pinpoint his minds location and that he wasn’t alone. I could pick two other minds in close proximity and many more further away those were easy to read mundanes,” Ross frowned at the term, “sorry, baselines. They were at his company headquarters in Houston.”

 

 

NovaStorm Headquarters, Houston Texas

 

Ryan ended the call and looked at Deezy who was looking at Temple who was looking…elsewhere.

 

“Well?”

 

Temple took a deep breath and collected her thoughts. “She did have a telepath with her, but he couldn’t get past my shield so the three of us weren’t read. He was fairly powerful, I guess since he is the only telepath I’ve encountered up to now, he probably picked up stuff from those nearby who were not in my shield. I didn’t counter probe him, but his shield didn’t look insurmountable,” she ended with a shrug.

 

They were already wearing the diving suits and were packed ready to go. Deezy grinned, “We better get going before they change their minds.”

 

A few minutes later they found themselves deep underground underwater in the tunnel where they had ended their last sojourn to this mysterious place.

 

Africa, the ancient tunnels…

 

 

Deezy had brought some very interesting gear this time, devices which could passively map their progress for later digital conversion, another which could read the age of the construction without disturbing it by taking sample, all she had to do was run the device over it and she could get composition and age estimates. She immediately began her analysis while Temple and Ryan approached the collapsed portion of the tunnel.

 

Spoiler

This is to give a chance for some tests and showing me your investigative skills. One thing will immediatly stand out to deezy and ryan. you are inthe area where cassie used her explosive power to clear the collapsed tunnel yet there is no evedince of any explosion it looks just as you remember it.

 

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Ryan studied the collapsed tunnel for a moment, carefully comparing it to his own memory of their first time here, and finding the incongruity.  "Deezy, Temple, this is exactly where Cassie cleared the tunnel with her abilities, yet there's nothing here indicating this was done.  There's literally no way that it collapsed again, in exactly the same fall shape.  The odds are insanely infintessimal.  This isn't natural.   Can one of you take a look?   Don't touch it, at least not yet though."
 

For his part, Ryan was scanning the outer edges of the tunnel and collapsed area, searching for anything that stood out.  He knew he could channel more power to his own senses, but refrained for the time being, instead relying on the others.   He was on high alert, in case something did happen again.

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Temple was once again astonished by the differences between her, and others like her, powers, and her nova companions. Even Deezy, as smart and capable as she was, needed machines to sense the true world around them. All she had to do was look.

 

"The rocks aren't real, they are like the things Deezy can make out of thin air, sorta, lifeless, like some kind of solid illusion. There is an energy forcefield which comprises part of the illusion, that's what's blocking the path, it just looks and feels like rocks." Temple shakes her head and closes her eyes tight, her arms and legs slowly moving to keep her in position, "I can't see past it." Sounding frustrated Temple moves closer to the rock and touches them, her head almost immediately starts moving back and forth, but nothing else happens.

 

She swims back to Rayan and Deezy. "The field is blocking most of my abilities, but I can say that it's an energy field I have never seen before, not that I have seen a lot of energy fields, and it is very powerful. I think the field is only a few yards thick, and I can't see past it or anything. I can try to break it but I'm not sure I can I don't know if I'm good enough."

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Ryan chuckled, which was picked up by his mic, and transmit to the other two.   Temple had of course, ignored him about touching the rocks, and thankfully it hadn't gone badly.     "Temple, you're more than good enough.   Deezy and I couldn't see that, let alone feel it.  You're doing exactly what we needed you to do for us.  Though maybe be abit less reckless in your approach?"   She could tell from his voice he wasn't truly admonishing her, and that he was happy she'd learned what she had.  He was just concerned for her, the same concern he'd always seemed to have had.   Misplaced perhaps, he knew she didn't really seem to need anyone else.

"Deezy, since we know there's a field here now, is there any way for you to compare it to what we experienced?  Clearly simply touching it doesn't trigger anything, though it inhibits further progress.   We should test that as well, and see just how effective that is, say tossing a rock or something similar.  Does it only affect living things?
 

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Temple still treading water to stay in place, shakes her head, "It's like on star trek, the holodeck. Really that's all these are but they aren't holograms like what Deezy can make they are psychic at least that seems to be the energy that makes them is on the same level as what my type of stormer does. It's more fundamental than the energy you guys use."

 

She looks at Deezy, and nods to herself, "I agree the labeling of the energy Nova's manipulate as Quantum energy is probably a misnomer, but sticking with the decided nomenclature would mean that what we Psion's use is  a sub quantum energy which permeates everything."

 

Both Deezy and Ryan were staring at the young high scool kid who was suddenly talking like a scientist, or rather a particular scientist.

 

Temple blushed, "I'm sorry. I needed to understand what i was seeing so I sorta borrowed your knowledge, Deezy. Its not harmful and if you think on it you will find that what i know you know right now too. If you want in Mr Hawke I can connect you as well."

 

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Ryan nodded.  "Of course, I'm fine with that if the two of you are, a pooling of our knowledge and skills is logical.   I've been meaning to ask since it's come up now, but do you notice any sort of interference when interacting with us?  Especially when we're using our abilities, and you yours?   I have been very curious about your abilities, but as I myself haven't revealed everything, I've tried to hold to the same respect for you, Temple."

He paused for a moment.  "If you interact with a subquantum energy, obviously it lets you mimic certain abilities that we Novas can do, but other things as well.   "I've operated under the assumption that there are other telepaths out there in the world, and you certainly confirmed it, but he was like you, you said.   Perhaps that's an ability unique to ones like you."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"It IS pretty cool, and a LOT faster than trying to explain," Deezy agrees, but then adds, "Just next time maybe ask first? Good rule of thumb when it comes to breaking into people's brains I find."

 

Her eyes cut to Ryan for a second, then back to Temple.

 

"...hypothetically. ANYWAY! What I'm hearing is that if we disrupt the pattern here, it should all become unstable and decay back to vacuum energy!"

 

She waggled her eyebrows at Temple and grinned. "Sound about right, Miss Expert?"

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Having first hand experience of how Deezy's mind worked via the mental network, as well as Mr Hawks, explained a lot to Temple, of course that was because she was attempting to unravel a technical mystery she had no knowledgebase to use of her own so her mind sifted the information, the know how and skill from theirs. They weren't getting anything from her because quite frankly she had no knowledge they didn't already have.

 

She smiled at Deezy, "Sort of. We can disrupt the illusion if you wish but not the underlying force field. That seems specifically designed to resist psionic penetration. But if I am not mistaken, Mr Hawke, it isn't shielded against your Quantum teleportation/warp ability. Very strange."

 

Temple projects her thoughts at the holographic façade and there is a blue rush much like a skein of lighter fluid on a table top burning away as the illusion of the collapsed wall is eaten away leaving only the tunnel, with a clear division, on one side it is filled with water and on the other, it is dry.

 

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Ryan watched as Temple broke the illusion, and once he could clearly see through it to the dry side, he focused for a moment and opened a portal, it would only allow the three of them through, not the water, and he nodded.  "Here we go."   

Not wanting to leave it to them to go through first, he did, Emerging into the dry side of the tunnel and looking around, as he waited for the others to follow behind him.  He scanned the tunnel to the best of his abilities, hoping there weren't any further tricks, but he was glad they had Temple with them.

"i'd keep your suits on, just in case, since you  both still need to breathe."   he thought.  He was doing the same, it was far better than to tempt fate.

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They passed through the warp portal and were in a completely dry tunnel. Unlike the tunnel above which had been created by the Utopians Novas, this tunnel was square shaped, something they had not been able to see due the the destruction the collapse of the upper tunnel floor had wrought. the Ancient wall carvings continued and the writing was more intact resembling ancient cuneiform, but even with Deezy's prodigious memory was so far undecipherable.

 

Around them the air moved gently and Deezy's sensors and measuring devices determined that the air was untainted and that the temperature was a uniform 84.7 degrees with inly a 26% humidity. 

 

The tunnel was warm but also environmentally controlled.

 

There was a low pitched hum almost too low to hear but if one place their heads close to a surface the vibration could be detected.

 

It had been dark, pitch black with the absence of all light except that which they supplied but as they stoop and made their initial assessments all three noticed that the darkness beyond their light beams seemed to be lessening, indeed as they watch the ambient light of the tunnel brightened until it stabilized at about 200 lumans with no visible light source.

 

Spoiler

all yours

 

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Ryan stared at the walls, the ancient writings, and already his enhanced mind was working to decipher the ancient script.  "Ok, so two options.  We can record everything here with the suits' cameras, for us to try to decipher later on and continue, or I can try it now.   I should add that I really don't know how long that will take."

 

Being linked mentally precluded the need to actually speak, which was nice.  Still, with this being an alien language, he wasn't certain he could even understand it using his ability.   Were he alone, he'd simply try to do it now, it could help explain things more for them, what lay ahead, madybe what happened that created these tunnels, but he wasn't.   

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For Deezy, it wasn't even a question. She played her lights and camera over the wall carvings with almost casual nonchalance, then focused on the long corridor ahead. As the air brightened, so did she, and she started narrating for the recording.

 

"Okay! So. We have power. It's reacting to our presence. So far no obvious defense systems or alarms. There's a low frequency oscillation being conducted through the...walls? Floor? Mmm, all of the above. Air is on the warm side, fairly dry...good gas balance. Artificially maintained. Mmm...looks like very dim lighting. Maybe it's in some kind of power saving mode, or maybe whoever built it just didn't need much light. I am, out of an abundance of caution, activating the defensive systems on my suit."

 

After another moment she added, "No GPS data reception here, not sure where we are anymore. Ryan, you have a pretty good grasp of positioning, yeah? Any thoughts on that?"

 

Still shining her lights ahead, Deezy started moving down the tunnel.

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